July 16--Growing up as a preacher's kid may not seem funny to some people, but for Chonda Pierce, it helped jump start her career.
"You never forget the taste of Ivory Soap," said the Nashville-based comedienne, referring to how some parents wash their kids' mouths out with soap when they say inappropriate words. "It was good, bad and ugly, so I have a lot of material."
Recently named "Top Certified Female Comedian" by the Recording Industry Association of America, Pierce is bringing her clean comedy to Western Kentucky University's Van Meter Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $20 to $25 and are available online at www.chondapierce.org.
"I've been doing stand-up for almost 20 years. I fall under the radar. I work clean," she said.
"It has offered me great opportunities to hold true to my morals, values and faith. It has opened doors. I couldn't do this without people."
Pierce got her start performing as Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl at Opryland in Nashville and was cast in a music and dance show called Country Music USA for six years. While her dancing was "terrible," she found her calling in comedy.
"It was (Pearl's) style and who she was that taught me," she said. "She was still funny and energetic."
She has written eight books, the most recent being "Laughing in the Dark," and has eight DVD titles that have been certified gold and four platinum.
She's a frequent guest at the Grand Ole Opry and has hosted the Inspirational Country Music Award and Christian Music Hall of Fame Awards and co-hosted the Gospel Music Award's Dove Awards.
She received five Daytime Emmy nominations for co-hosting "Aspiring Women," a talk show on the Total Living Network, and her first television special, "This Ain't Prettyville!," which appeared on Country Music Television. She has also been on a variety of shows, three movies on major networks and regularly appears on XM and Sirius satellite radio.
"Moving outside the Bible Belt has been a little journey to travel," she said.
"I've sold a lot of records and tickets, but I didn't sell out. My faith comes before my career does."
Some stand-up comedians make different choices, Pierce said.
"You don't want to be judgmental in the craft they choose. My mother would say, 'Oh my! They're living in all the life they know.' "
Her current tour, "Girl Talk," is a "sweet tribute to my mom," who died this year. She plans to hit about more than 64 shows in the fall and spring and has added other issues to her routine.
"Menopause is a hot topic," she said. "I talk about squeezing myself out of a pair of Spanx."
-- Alyssa Harvey covers features for the Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/bgdnfeatures or visit bgdailynews.com.
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